Nationals should be D-Day..
My last week for nationals is a bit hazy.. I worked everyday and had almost everyday overtime. Due to urgent calls, we can’t ignore people and say “hey shifts over, call again next time”. No we (the police) are here to help people. So the little time I had left I spend on the bike.. Tuesday I worked form 8 am till 5pm. Trained from 5pm till 8pm (straight after work) and still managed to make dinner and get enough sleep..
That is probably how my weeks pass by. Some people ask me how I manage to do everything and sometimes I just can’t answer that question. I spend less time with my friends (what I regret, but they understand), less time watching TV (actually none), and the minimum on sleep, (I don’t need a lot so that’s a good thing)
Back to nationals..
I could leave work early on friday, because I know how bad the traffic is around Antwerp.. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. It seems they are rebuilding the whole city.. Me and my teammate almost got a nervous breakdown. We rode 2hrs on 6k just to get into Antwerp.. It can’t get any worse – We thought wrong…
The start for the women is early, 8am. It is always been like that so we know the drill.. but like some of my fellow female cyclist friends say “we get use to it” and actually it is wrong of us to get use to these things. Bending back and forward to get are bodies awake enough to deliver a prestation at a top level on that hour.. it’s not about the men, it is never been about the men. It’s about the money and how the union wants to spend it. Not on womenscycling that is for sure.
We are THE country, the country of cyclists.We are the country with the great names, and some of the most beautiful races on world tour level, Belgium is blessed with a wonderfully rich cycling heritage – it’s the heartland of the Classics.. But we are the country with ta bad reputation on womenscycling. At least when it comes to organising nationals.. in computation with other countries.
We woke up a 4:30am to eat at 5. It’s really hard to eat enough at that hour, you just have to force yourself, because you know you need all the fuell you can get. We already prepped everything the day before (pinning on numbers, making bottles, getting our kits ready..) and of we go at 7am, heading towards the start. What we saw couldn’t catch your minds.. They were still busy taking cars off the parcours.. There was a strong wind, so the fences where laying on the ground, police tape everywhere. We had to start in less than 30min.. and nobody was doing a thing about it.
We signed, and where waiting on the start signal.. And the first message came through – We have to wait another 10mins the course isn’t free yet, due to the fences, – Well hello, they where already laying there form 7am that is like an hour back.. they had problems setting up an archway?! publicity is everything.. The women can wait in the cold at 8am.. (littarly and figural speaking) I even had time to take a slefie :).. After 10min we could start..
We had a neutralisation till we crossed the finish line, a 3k or something.. I was in front an suddenly I hear someone screaming, and the noise of a bike hitting the floor.. First crash.. wonder how that can happen with te tramrails.. another 5min wait at the finish line and it was actually cold in comparison with the weather we had last weeks.. Finally we could take off.. 4k’s and the man who should guide us in the right way, send us the wrong way.. And last but not least in de second lap we had to slow down for yes,, the tram..
I don’t know how every year they can deal with the bad comments, and it’s every year the same story. It’s sad that on a day like nationals the things that could go better for womenscycling are actually worse, and certainly in a country like mine.. 0% publicity, 0% knowledge, 0% respect. We carry the people who are willing to do a lot for women cycling on both hands. The ones who wake up early to drive to the course, to soigneur the women, to be there, to guide us, just to make it a bit less horrible. A huge thank you to the photographers who where willing to wake up early to take some great shots, because on tv you won’t get to see a lot of it.. and last but not least to the people who can make a change or diffirence, do it. But I know you won’t, because you are to conservative, otherwise you already had learned your lessons out of the mistakes you made last year..